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Labette Health

What we've learned about long COVID

June 24, 2024—COVID-19 has become part of our lives. And while many COVID-19 infections don't pose a threat to long-term health, for some people, the lingering effects can be serious.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, a recent survey reported that about 7% of U.S. adults have had long COVID. This new data supports earlier research on how widespread the condition is.

The survey also found that:

  • More women than men reported long COVID symptoms—8.6% of females versus 5.1% of males.
  • Adults who had received vaccine boosters had lower long COVID rates than those who were unvaccinated or hadn't had a booster.
  • Long COVID was more prevalent among Hispanic and white adults than Black and Asian adults.

A new definition

Scientists are still working to understand—and define—long COVID. The term has often been used to refer to one or more symptoms that last for at least three months after a COVID-19 infection. However, after reviewing long COVID data and interviewing people with the condition, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine updated the definition. The new definition states that long COVID:

  1. Occurs after a COVID-19 infection, whether mild, severe or asymptomatic.
  2. Lasts for three months or longer. Symptoms may appear immediately after an acute infection or be delayed.
  3. Has more than 200 possible symptoms that can be mild or severe, last for months or years, and affect many organs.
  4. Can affect any child or adult who has had a COVID-19 infection.
  5. May seriously impact a person's ability to perform normal daily activities.

Recognizing long COVID

Long COVID affects everyone differently. For some people, symptoms may be mild or come and go. For others, symptoms are severe or continuous.

Long COVID has been linked to hundreds of symptoms, but its most common effects include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Dizziness.
  • Digestive problems.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Rapid heartbeat.
  • Persistent cough.
  • Chest pain.
  • Loss of taste or smell.

Long COVID may worsen preexisting chronic conditions like heart disease, blood clots, diabetes and neurological disease. It can even increase your risk for developing these conditions.

Living with long COVID?

If you are dealing with long COVID, it may help to keep a journal of all your symptoms—and what makes them better or worse. Share that information with your doctor. They can help you manage symptoms and improve the quality of your daily life.


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